Print 30 comment(s) - last by TimberJon.. on Jun 3 at 3:11 PM

The L Prize is an exciting new electronics competition sponsored by the DOE

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is not a fan of the old-fashioned light bulb which has changed little over the last few decades -- in fact it wants to replace it.  It wants scientists to develop more efficient, high-quality affordable solid-state lighting and it has launched a new prize program titled Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize.  The department states, "The L Prize will continue DOE’s lighting research and development efforts by aiming to radically accelerate America’s shift from inefficient, dated lighting products to innovative, high-performance products."

The new program will offer cash prizes and according to the DoE,
"may also lead to opportunities for federal purchasing agreements, utility programs, and other incentives for winning products."

The new program is part of the provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, a wide reaching bill seeking to help reduce America's dependence on foreign energy sources by promoting greater energy efficiency.  Among its chief targets is the replacement of most inefficient current forms of lighting --
60W incandescent lamps and PAR 38 halogen lamps.  There are prizes for designing a light bulb in either class which meets the requirements defined by the Department of Energy.

The EISA legislation authorizes up to $20M USD in cash prizes.  The money will come from the DOE Congressional appropriations, charitable foundations, and power utilities.  Of the cash prize purse, the DOE is contributing $1M USD, contingent upon the promised 2009 appropriation.  It tells competitors that the real figure will be substantially larger.

It states, "In addition, potential opportunities for future federal purchasing agreements, utility programs, and other incentives for winning products may far exceed the value of the cash prize."

The specifications for the competition on a most basic level state that for a design to be eligible to claim the prize it must consumer just 17 percent of the energy used in current incandescent designs.  Designs will be rigorously tested to confirm their fitness and durability.  Utility partners will help stress the bulbs under real world conditions.

Four major utilities -- Pacific Gas & Electric, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison -- have all signed aboard the project.  They pledge to help contribute to the testing, and help reward prize winners.

More details on prize specifics and solid-state lighting can be viewed here.

The DOE is going to offer a new certification "DOE Energy Star" to exemplary designs.  It expects these designs to start appearing on the market by late this year.

The "L Prize" follows closely in the footsteps of the well publicized "X Prize" competitions, which started out as a prize for the first private suborbital space flight, and since have expanded to include goals such as a new lunar lander and better gas mileage.  DailyTech has looked in depth at the promising future of LED lighting in an article which can be viewed here.

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how about led
By freaqie on 6/2/2008 6:30:49 AM , Rating: 1
what is wrong with LED lighting.
it is pretty affordable.
mass producable and very energy efficient
why invest in new technology.
it is so efficient.
focus on other stuff where more savings are to be achieved

RE: how about led
By Saosin on 6/2/2008 6:40:37 AM , Rating: 2
LED is solid-state lighting...

RE: how about led
By Trisagion on 6/2/2008 7:23:58 AM , Rating: 2
LEDs are good but can't replace the 60W bulbs you find at home. There's only so much LEDs you can cram into a finite space, plus they aren't bright enougn.

RE: how about led
By Alexstarfire on 6/2/2008 7:28:07 AM , Rating: 2
Have you seen some of the latest ones? They are plenty bright enough. I don't really know what's holding them back. OLEDs should hopefully help the LED lighting situation though.

RE: how about led
By Trisagion on 6/2/2008 7:34:08 AM , Rating: 3
Actually, you are right. There already are LED lamps:

Check the challenges in using LEDs as a replacement for lamps.

RE: how about led
By Trisagion on 6/2/2008 7:34:20 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, you are right. There already are LED lamps:

Check the challenges in using LEDs as a replacement for lamps.

RE: how about led
By masher2 on 6/2/2008 9:56:33 AM , Rating: 2
> "I don't really know what's holding them back. "

Cost primarily, along with the poor quality of the light generated. Fluorescent lighting is also more energy-efficient than the typical LED lamps sold at the consumer level...though some LED lighting in labs is besting it.

RE: how about led
By spluurfg on 6/2/2008 7:47:27 AM , Rating: 2
My LED flashlight puts out enough light for me to see the beam on the ground on a sunny day, or light up a dark street, and runs on two small lithium batteries for 11 hours. LEDs can be plenty bright -- I think the trick, as always, is trying to make them more efficient.

RE: how about led
By aeroxander on 6/2/2008 8:45:08 AM , Rating: 2
The wiki article is very good.

I don't believe that the issue is brightness, its the quality of that light. I find those LED flashlights produce that grey blue tinge to everything which I definitely don't want in my house.

RE: how about led
By Viditor on 6/2/2008 9:30:04 AM , Rating: 2
LED uses a masking tech, OLED is 100% emmittive and far more efficient.
Universal Display Corp has been receiving government grants for several years now on their "white light" program...

RE: how about led
By tastyratz on 6/2/2008 9:40:51 AM , Rating: 5
60w incandescent seem to sit around ~800 lumens or so.

LED's have finally advanced to being significantly bright yes, however there are still several problems.

Single LED's are not yet at the same level of brightness that I have been able to find, so multiple LEDs would be needed. The brightest LED I can find to purchase, the luxeon k2 star, in a very high binned form is 150 lumens and consumes about 4 watts.

Focus is another problem, for a bulb to really be useful you need to be sure it has a good even distribution of light. This will require possibly expensive optics or at least a different approach to lighting than we have now.

LED lights can be made to produce a range of colors (such as the blue you mentioned, they can now do soft whites as well) but they cant reproduce them all at once.
LED lights have a very small range of spectral reproduction. Incandescent are a full bodied range of colors all the way to infrared. LED's produces a very un-natural light and can interfere with melatonin production, as well as mood/etc. Your bodies hormones as well as biological clock actually relies heavily on light therapy.

RE: how about led
By TimberJon on 6/3/2008 3:11:56 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah but my MagLite can put a beam down a 1/2 mile of road easily and generate something like 50k candlepower.

17% doesn't seem that much?
By billythefisherman on 6/2/2008 6:16:38 PM , Rating: 2
It states in the article that a design has to reach 17% the energy consumption of a normal design to be eligible - I just went into a shop yesterday and bought a energy efficient bulb which was 18%:

Shouldn't the DOE be aiming a little higher or am I being a bit thick and missing something here?

RE: 17% doesn't seem that much?
By masher2 on 6/2/2008 6:56:37 PM , Rating: 2
A CFL bulb equivalent to a 60W incandescent uses 13 watts...thats 26%, not 17%. It also has a lifespan about 1/3 of what the competition requires, as well as (sometimes) a very poor color rendering index.

The L word?
By Alias1431 on 6/2/2008 10:09:48 PM , Rating: 2
Comon Jason, you can do better than that.

My L Prize entry is...
By nosfe on 6/2/08, Rating: -1
RE: My L Prize entry is...
By spluurfg on 6/2/2008 6:57:33 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah, but you have to worry about energy efficiency, not just electricity efficiency =P

RE: My L Prize entry is...
By zsdersw on 6/2/2008 7:13:12 AM , Rating: 3
I'm sure your home-owners insurance company would be thrilled if you decided to light your house with candles.

RE: My L Prize entry is...
By Alexstarfire on 6/2/08, Rating: -1
RE: My L Prize entry is...
By martinrichards23 on 6/2/2008 7:51:54 AM , Rating: 1
You ARE free to do what you like.

But if a candle burns your house down you probably won't be covered, have fun paying that one off.

RE: My L Prize entry is...
By AlvinCool on 6/2/2008 10:19:55 AM , Rating: 3
But if a candle burns your house down you probably won't be covered, have fun paying that one off.

Actually, as long as you don't willfully commit arson with that candle, your insurance does cover it. What kind of reasoning are you trying to use that says if I decide to use a candle in my house and an accident happens, that somehow it's not covered as with any other accident?

By martinrichards23 on 6/2/2008 11:21:11 AM , Rating: 1
Negligence maybe?

RE: My L Prize entry is...
By zsdersw on 6/3/2008 6:43:44 AM , Rating: 2
The insurance company will be thrilled to raise their rates.. and the policy holder will be thrilled to see and pay the increase. :)

RE: My L Prize entry is...
By zsdersw on 6/2/2008 8:43:47 AM , Rating: 3
Yes, I will never buy a home in an area with a homeowners association, but that's not quite what I was referring to. I was talking about the insurance company through which you have your home-owners insurance policy.

RE: My L Prize entry is...
By Reclaimer77 on 6/2/2008 3:11:20 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I will never buy a home in an area with a homeowners association

Well then you probably have three choices.

1. Apartment for life.
2. Your own land WAAAAY out in the suburbs.
3. Trailer park living

RE: My L Prize entry is...
By zsdersw on 6/2/2008 5:00:48 PM , Rating: 2
Not at all. There are many homes in suitable locations for me without homeowner associations.

RE: My L Prize entry is...
By Pudro on 6/3/2008 5:54:03 AM , Rating: 3
You quite clearly have no idea what America looks like outside of your own neighborhood.

RE: My L Prize entry is...
By masher2 on 6/2/2008 9:54:51 AM , Rating: 2
> "While I don't own a home, the idea of a homeowners association is just crap"

A homeowner's association is a wonderful idea, actually-- as its an agreement voluntarily entered into, designed to protect property values for all. No one buys a home without knowing how and if an association restricts usage and -- having bought a home -- no association can change the rules without your permission.

The truly malignant force is government legislation, usually local, which not only can restrict usage in many more ways than a homeowner's association, but can also do so without your consent, before and/or after you've already purchased a home, and even go so far as to seize your home entirely for its own uses, giving you only a fraction of its fair market value.

RE: My L Prize entry is...
By mattclary on 6/2/2008 4:40:28 PM , Rating: 2
What he said. +1

RE: My L Prize entry is...
By ZmaxDP on 6/2/2008 9:58:37 PM , Rating: 2
I'd classify it a bit differently.

The agreements and restrictions that are part of a homeowner's association are limited by the voluntary nature of the agreement. Now, that being said, HA's do have legal means for recourse, so don't think you can just ignore them if you don't like them. Still, they tend to be limited to aesthetic, size, and location restrictions. While these kind of restrictions aren't going to seriously change your situation, they can be quite frustrating if you want to do something even a little different.

The downside of HA rules is that they're typically made by an "elected" board of home owners who are subject to the rules. Very rarely are these board members professionals in the real estate or construction/architecture world, and so they frequently have misconceptions about what makes property values change or what actually makes for good community design. So, while some people like to attribute stable home prices in communities with homeowners association, others attribute a lower than average increase in property values and the now common "cookie-cutter" communities to them as well.

Federal, State, and Local legislation definitely has the potential to have a much larger and more immediate impact on someone's home, but this plays two ways too. While some of these actions (such as immenent domain) can strip someone of their homes at a lower than market value, they can also greatly increase a property's value through zoning changes or creating green space or parks. Usually, only the negative actions get coverage or complaints (obviously). Of course, sometimes the increases gets coverage because the increase in price causes an increase in property taxes as well. This is commonly called "gentrification" in poorer communities. Wealthier people move in, build bigger more expensive houses, the property values increase, and poorer families can't afford these taxes anymore. Now, if these poorer families owned the property they live on the increase in value means they can make quite a bit of money off a sale. However, most of these families are renters, and simply loose their homes without any payback. Point being, negative effects get talked about alot. However, these kind of legislative actions have a far greater positive impact (on average) than any HA. To make it more complicated, frequently a legislative change will have a negative effect on a few people, but a positive effect on a much larger group. (hence the "on average") It still sucks if you're the one that gets screwed.

In either case, there are good and bad instances of each. Legislation tends to have a much larger effect, both good and bad. In all cases, getting the most out of both requires intelligently electing the people who are going to represent you in those capacities.

My two cents...

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan
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